Monday, September 11, 2006

It is September 11th. I woke up remembering.

When you hear Holocaust survivors speak, the mention of remembering is the most prevalent purpose to their stories. If we remember the pain and the suffering, we will not let the devastation occur again.

I flew home last night crying. My mother, father, and brother were all on the same airplane for Buffalo to Atlanta. Josh then drove home to Auburn from Atlanta and my parents continued on to Mobile. I sat in the airport praying that nothing happened to that airplane. I thought about my life without the three of them. I prayed that if the Lord must allow an airplane to crash; let it be mine instead. I flew for the first time at 15 months. I was not scared of flying until today, 5 years ago. I thought about that morning in Amherst, MA five years ago today.

I believe that if history has taught us anything, we must remember the Korean War to prevent Vietnam. We must remember genocide to prevent Darfur. We must remember what it felt like when we watched a man jumping from the World Trade Center in his suit with his tie floating above him holding hands with a woman in a black skirt and heels. We must remember those who suffocated beneath the collapsed towers, those we ran in their heels from the building, those who went to save people and died themselves. We must remember sitting at a vigil on our campus green with tears in our eyes. It is only through fear that we will prevent. It is only through that sadness that we will treasure the moments with our family or hug them as many times as possible before they board their airplane.

I was in the second week of my last year of college. I was about to pick up my friend Graham. I was finishing my coffee, smoking my morning cigarette, and watching the Today show. Breaking news cut into the program to show the first plane having hit the World Trade Center. I called my mother to find out the location of my Uncle who worked in World Trade Center building 7.

I picked up Graham, and we hypothesized what had happened. We arrived at our campus lounge where we sat every morning eating bagels, drinking coffee, and watching the news on a big television. We watched there as the second plane hit, as an airplane hit the Pentagon hit, as the building fell. We watched, and we cried. We tried to call everyone we knew in New York, but the lines were busy. We e-mailed our friends mothers, brothers, friends, and family. We watched the lists start appearing of who had passed away. We sat in front of the television without food, without sleep, without understanding.

We watched as Mayor Giuliani cried and President Bush declared war. I listened to the stories of those who survived, of my Uncle who walked the Brooklyn Bridge to get home. I worried about my friend Marc as he took a bus to downtown Manhattan for months after the metro stopped running. When the blackout took place in 2003, I sat in the dark scared this was another attack. I cringed at the introduction to the early Sex in the City episodes and the World Trade Centers in the background. I slept poorly and ate nothing on the days my parents took planes. I started saying "I Love You" at the end of my conversations to my best friends and family.

But mainly, I forgot. I forgot why I had this fear. I forgot how empty my insides felt, how sweaty my palms felt, how nervous my mind felt. I forgot how great my friend Dave's voice sounded when I heard that he was able to run from the subway just as the planes hit the buildings. I forgot going back to New York six months later and seeing fashionable women in flat shoes. I forgot the way it felt to cry for the people who lived, the people who died, and the people who lost. I forgot that pain. Today, I am trying to remember it.


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